Do You Know Where Your Film and Video Masters Are?

Preserving indie film is no small matter. Photo by DRsKulturarvsprojekt.

Editor’s Note: We are posting this email message from Sandra Schulberg at her request as a courtesy to our readers who share concerns over preserving and archiving independent films. We plan to follow this project and report more formally about its status in the future.

Begin message:

As some of you know, I’ve become passionate about the need to preserve our American independent films for posterity. Many are already at risk and some have already been lost. On Nov 7, Ed Carter & Brian Dischell (Academy Film Archive), Katie Trainor (MoMA) and Deb Stoiber (George Eastman House) and I made a presentation at AMIA’s conference (of Moving Image Archivists) about the films in DuArt’s vault that we are rescuing. We had a full house and got tremendous encouragement, but many told us their archives are full or nearly full. And the hundreds of films at DuArt are just the tip of the iceberg. See my invite below to the first NY organizing meeting. This notice will also appear in this week’s IFP newsletter. Please come. It’s important.

If you’re an exhibitor, programmer or distributor on my list, please come too. You may have films that need preservation and/or know filmmakers who need our help. If you’re an archivist, please come to share information about your collection policies and capacity.

IndieCollect Wants YOU!
WHEN: Dec 9, 2013 – 6:00pm
WHERE: IFP’s new Made in NY Digital Media Center, 30 John Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201

Do you know where your film and video masters are? Are they being preserved in climate-controlled conditions? Or are you saving them in a basement, a closet, on a hard drive, or in the Cloud?

IFP founder Sandra Schulberg and former New York Film Festival director Richard Pena are spearheading a national initiative called indieCollect to save American independent films from extinction. It is estimated that 80% of all films produced before 1950 have been lost due to neglect or destruction.This could be our fate too unless we do something about it. Just as we banded together in the late 1970s to found the IFP as a filmmakers’ self-help organization, we are going to have to band together now to make sure that our films are not lost due to neglect or faulty preservation strategies.

So please come to this first NY organizing meeting and learn what IndieCollect is doing:
— to rescue hundreds of films forgotten or abandoned in the DuArt laboratory vaults and other locations
— to secure free longterm climate-controlled storage for you in filmmaker-friendly archives around the country (but, see above, archive capacity is really limited and we need to figure out what to do about this)
— to catalogue our films through the forthcoming IndieCollect online encyclopedia (with Richard Pena as Editor-in-Chief) so scholars and programmers can study them and find them
— to educate filmmakers about the urgent need to preserve our collective body of work.

IndieCollect is a non-profit effort, set up under the aegis of the Laboratory for Icon & Idiom, a 501(c)3 organization. So far, it’s an all-volunteer effort, so please lend your support. We’ve got to save ourselves. No one is going to do it for us.

RSVP: Space is limited in IFP’s new theater at 30 John Street, so you must RSVP to: SSchulberg AT aol DOT com. Please put your name in the subject line when you reply and indicate “will come.” If you don’t reply, we will assume you will not be coming. Out of town colleagues: just wanted you to know this is happening….

INFO ABOUT YOUR MATERIALS: If you already have a concern about the location of your film or digital masters and/or you need an archival home, please put that info in your email back to me. IndieCollect is dedicating to finding archival homes where you can access your materials to make new masters in years to come. Some filmmakers may wish to make a permanent donation, but that may not be the right option for you. So, I’m pushing for places that are filmmaker-friendly and will allow us future access, as needed.

Sandra Schulberg
Tel +1 917 667 6077
sschulberg AT

℅ Schulberg Productions
200 Park Avenue South
Suite 1109
New York, NY 10003


About :

Erin Trahan edits and publishes The Independent.